For centuries, cities have competed with their rivals to attract and retain humanity’s best, brightest and strongest. The battles fought between Athens and Sparta during the Golden Age of Greece more than 2,000 years ago provide a good example as did the competition between Florence and Sienna to be at the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance.
A similar competitive spirit has been on full display over the past year as more than 100 cities in the USA and Canada vie for Amazon.com’s second headquarters (HQ2) and its promised 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investment. While it isn’t surprising that mayors from coast to coast–especially those leading rust-belt cities such as Detroit–would be pulling out all stops to win such a prize, they would be wise to get a first-hand view of the challenges such instant prosperity can bring.
I had a dream this week–one of those part whimsical, part terrifying nocturnal romps through the subconscious mind. I’ll warn you, the dreams that I remember the morning after are in vivid color and peppered with detail.
In my dream, I found myself standing in a crowd that had gathered along the fence facing the North Lawn of the White house. Between the fountain and the north portico of the building stood Donald Trump, dressed in full-on matador costume complete with a glowing red cape he held aloft in his tiny right hand.
The North Lawn of the White House with the sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue at bottom–the setting for my dream. Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Many of you have seen the images from Saturday’s protests calling for sensible gun legislation in the USA as “March for Our Lives” events were held in cities all across the USA along with solidarity marches in cities world-wide.
The protests, which saw hundreds of thousands of marchers take to the streets of Washington, D. C. alone, were largely organized by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a young white male gunman using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle killed 17 students and wounded 17 others on February 14, 2018.
Anti-NRA banner at the March for our Lives
I love meeting new people along my journey, the kind that, due to their intelligence and awareness, cause me to question my assumptions about the world and the daily habits I take for granted.
Such was the case this week when I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with an extraordinary young woman who was visiting my closest friend here in Colombia. This young woman studied and lived abroad and now runs an NGO in Mexico City (which she founded) called “Ollin,” which roughly translates to Youth in Movement.
During one of our discussions on international issues, she casually asked if I would describe myself as an expat or an immigrant.
Hum, I thought, as conflicting thoughts raced through my mind. This is a quandary. Based on my current status here in Colombia, how would I label myself?
I was shocked to just find a blog posting entitled “How to Survive a Mass Shooting”, a full-on technical combat guide for American citizens. It’s professionally put together to sell the idea to buyers who seemed to be flocking to the post.
After describing some basic combat training techniques, the guide ends with the following:
“Stay vigilant, maintain situational awareness at all times, plan for the worst, and stay survival fit – body and mind!!!”
It’s a soldiers guide
[I WILL NOT provide a link to this!]
Is this really where we are in American society? I’m not surprised that it looks more and more like the USA is entering another period of civil warfare, but I am shocked that its happening sooner than I predicted.
“17 left dead in 6 short minutes of terror” read the latest headline!
The merchants of death and their cult of gun owners is still marching triumphantly in the aftermath of yet another mass killing spree at an American school.
As usual, there are only a few lone voices crying in the wilderness, demanding the US government take measures to stop the slaughter of innocents.
Do that many Americans really feel that the right to have unrestricted freedom to own and carry military-grade automatic weapons is more important than the safety of the people they love the most? Because, I’m sorry, that’s the way it looks to the rest of the world at the moment.
People from Australia, a country that changed gun ownership laws in response to mass shootings there, are quick to point out that their sensible laws have stopped this sort of mass bloodshed from happening on Australian soil.
This is not an article arguing the pros and cons of the State of Israel’s right to defend itself against outside enemies that might want to do it or its people harm. Nor am I writing this to plead for or against the US Government’s decision to recognize the whole city of Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel. And, I’m certainly not going to pontificate that I have a solution to problems of coexistence in that region of the Middle East that date back millennia.
This is, however, a plea for the American people to speak out and demand that the US Government continue providing humanitarian aid for the neediest Palestinians at a time when the world is definitely paying attention and questioning almost every aspect of American leadership.
In case you haven’t heard or read about it, here’s what I’m referring to:
The US Government is withholding humanitarian aid to more than 5 million Palestinians across the Middle East as leverage to force the Palestinian Authority into a new round of peace talks.
The aid money–$355 million in 2017—is for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), one of the largest organizations providing funds for services and infrastructure to Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
While sitting opposite Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, US President Trump proclaimed, “That money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”